ReviewsReview: Savage Halloween

Review: Savage Halloween

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Everyone likes to let their hair down now and then. You’ve worked hard all year, and the party is arranged. Much excitement passes through the ranks, and everyone attends expecting a good time. There is dancing, laughter, and everyone is having a good time until someone ruins the fun. There is always one person who doesn’t want the party to stop. But in Savage Halloween, that person takes it one step too far.

Developed by 2ndBoss and published by QUByte Interactive, this is an old-school platform shooter that embodies everything great about the genre. An absurd story, colourful levels, and plenty of weapons to choose from. It uses a simple concept to get you going, but keeps you grounded with its hectic gameplay and waves of monsters to defeat.

Time for a refreshing dip.

Savage Halloween is packed with retro vibes.

With its brash colours, pixelated images, simple level design, and challenging foes. Savage Halloween is packed with retro vibes. In theory, its gameplay offers nothing new, and experts of the genre should easily hammer through the stages. In reality, it’s a challenging title that will keep you on your toes and will kill you repeatedly. Like many of its 80s and 90s peers, the story is far-fetched. The absurd tale and has little bearing on how the game plays out, but it’ll amuse you nonetheless.

Once a year, the undead is allowed a 24-hour disco. They have worked hard all year, scaring people and doing other ghoulish tasks. The tunes are blaring and everyone is having fun. An evil vampire decides that the party should never end and casts a spell to block the portal back to the afterlife. This predicament irks three guests in particular; James, a farmer who has had his eternal rest disturbed, Lulu, a confused werewolf, and Dominika, the daughter of the partying Dark Lord.

The three guests decide that enough is enough. Armed with guns, and their special attributes, they send the hellish guests back to the afterlife. You’ll explore 7 worlds, each comprise many stages, mini-bosses and gargantuan guardians. You select between Normal and Hardcore difficulty and must survive with 3 lives, and several continues.

Play solo, or with friends.

Each of the three characters is available. They have strengths and weaknesses, and all use the same guns except for their special attack. The whacky and varied selection of ammo allows you to change your approach quickly, and you can attack with; boomerang ghosts, a bouncing green ghoul, a sticky grenade, and more. I loved the strange guns at your disposal. Not only did it add some variety to the game, but it allowed for a degree of tactical nuance.

Couch co-op games have gone from strength to strength recently. Savage Halloween is another title to be added to the growing library. Enlist a friend to aid you on your mission and reduce the difficulty vastly. Two heads are better than one, and two guns decimate the monsters in record time. It’s an uncomplicated affair, and was a lot of fun with another player. I was reminded of the enjoyment that was found in; Double Dragon and Street of Rage. It is great to try solo, but there is something special about playing this with friends.

Reckless driving.

Predictable foes.

I’ve stated several times that this is a challenge, and I stand by my statement. This isn’t because your opponents are highly intelligent, have high health, or hit like trains. No, you get bum-rushed by them constantly. Wave after wave of meandering menaces make it tough to shoot and dodge every enemy you face. Unfortunately, damage is taken, and dying is all but guaranteed.

The irony behind this is the predictability of each monster’s movement. Each world has unique characters, but once you’ve seen what they are capable of, it doesn’t change. The same can be said for the bosses! It’s mostly a game of patience and dodging, rather than a test of skill. This doesn’t make it much easier, but if you take time to study your opponents, you give yourself a fighting chance.

There is nothing modern about this.

Many developers are using pixelated graphics as their style. It’s the “in” thing, and retro gaming bridges the gap nicely between generations. What I’ve found recently is a modern take on the pixelated image; crisper edges, brighter tones, and more detail. Savage Halloween forgets the up-to-date aesthetics and sticks to the nostalgia-inducing look. Rough pixels, garish colours and simple level designs make this look like it belongs in an arcade. It’s unsightly, but I loved its style.

The rough-and-ready presentation doesn’t end there though, its synthesised audio is straight from the 80s. The disco party theme is embodied by the high tempo and upbeat electronic soundtrack. With the influence of the Halloween season, it’s bizarre to listen to, but wonderful at the same time. The basic sound effects match the simplicity of the approach and suit the arcade-style.

They don’t want their party to end!

The controls are awkward! 

This will be a contradictory statement because the button layout is simple to understand, and a small tutorial explains what to do. But, even with the straightforward setup, some practice is required to get used to it. Aiming is achieved using the analogue stick, and to prevent you from moving, you can lock your character’s position. This can be tough to master, but after a little time, you’ll be used to the quirky aiming system. Other than this, it’s enjoyable to play and is easy to pick up.

With only 7 worlds, I was worried it would be a small game. I was wrong to be concerned. It’s complex, with plenty to see and do. The option of two difficulties and the addition of multiplayer make sure there’s lots of replay value. A small but extremely challenging achievement list will push completionists to their limits. At around £4, this is inexpensive, and great value for money.

Savage Halloween is a retro-classic.

It’s fair to say that retro games are hot property. Savage Halloween attempts to get in on this market with its basic pixelated approach. With many weapon choices, predictable enemies and simple levels, it’s a retro-classic begging to be played. It’s for this reason I recommend it. You can buy it here! A party is great until someone takes it too far. Thwart that evil vampire’s plan and send everyone back to the afterlife. 

SUMMARY

Savage Halloween is a classic retro 2D platform shooter. Synthesised sound, pixelated graphics and a straightforward concept make this a joy to play.

+ Garish and pixelated graphics.
+ 80s inspired audio.
+ Simple concept.
+ Lots of replay value.
+ Good value for money.
+ A surprising amount of content.
- The aiming controls are fiddly.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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